For sake of brevity, the original TMP did not address the issue of more advanced terrestrial development after the initial Aquarius colonization, shifting instead to focus on the development of space which the Aquarius phase was intended to establish the industrial and energy infrastructure for. But we understand now that the phases of TMP do not begin and end in sequence. Each community development in TMP must potentially carry on indefinitely and must account indefinitely for an evolution in the habitats they create with evolution in technology and culture. Marshal Savage characterized Aquarius as a model cultural habitat for space development, cultivating a culture necessary for survival in the space environment and thus likely to be replicated and elaborated in space settlement. However, Aquarius would also serve as a model for a superior way of life on Earth in general, whether on sea or land. Thus with TMP2 we should consider the course of terrestrial development long-term.
Though Savage never used the term himself in the original TMP, Aquarius is, essentially, a kind of arcology; a planned urban megastructure housing a complete habitat within a single large contiguous structure designed to optimize the efficiency of supporting the diverse needs of an urban population. The arcology concept originates with the work of legendary architect Paulo Soleri and is the only conceptual survivor of the brief mid-20th-century design movement known as the Megastructure Movement. Long before the likes of James Lovelock made the notion popular in the contemporary culture, Soleri recognized the collective organismic nature of the planetary biosphere, it’s role as a planetary life-support system, and the threat ad-hoc human development was posing to it, and by extension to human survival. He realized that it was critical, for its own survival, that the human civilization miniaturize its footprint on the planet, insuring that the biosphere had sufficient global area for its own necessary processes. Thus he devised the notion of a kind of urban habitat based on contiguous largely self-contained structures of great height that could reduce the necessary area of a community while still giving individuals a generous amount of living space, now organized volumetrically rather then spreading out over the landscape. He thus envisioned a near future where civilization was comfortably confined to a series of giant elegant city-buildings, internally free of automobiles and linked by a select handful of high density transit links with all the land once squandered to suburban and semi-urban sprawl and a wasteful redundancy of roads returned to the wilderness. A future where everyone can enjoy the standard-of-living benefits of the urban habitat, the conveniences of a high-tech, high-efficiency, high bandwidth infrastructure, and yet all the quality-of-life benefits of living on the edge of wilderness. A future where civilization finally exists in balance with the natural environment by facing-up to the reality that caring for and loving nature means, quite simply, getting out of its way and leaving it alone.
Commonly characterized as a dystopian ‘human hive’ by those who simply couldn’t comprehend the physical scale of such habitats or the epitome of ‘megalomaniaclemegabuild’ by an architectural design community which, toward the end of the 20th century, had joined an increasingly dogmatic environmentalist movement in demonizing all things urban, Modernist, and technological, the arcology concept fell to the wayside of contemporary culture but never quite disappeared, finding a home among futurists and the precious few technology pragmatists in the environmentalist community. Though generally obscure, the concept remerges regularly in futurist and science fiction media, sometimes in a dystopian context, sometimes utopian. With our civilization now facing its greatest environmental challenges to date as a consequence of Global Warming and Peak Oil, the utter and dangerous folly of our previous modes of habitat and development are finally starting to be recognized along with the need for a radically more efficient way of living. In seeking to arrive at a comprehensive solution to the problems we have created in our environment, we must ultimately arrive at exactly the same conclusions Paulo Soleri arrived at in the 1950s. Nature must have it’s space –or else. It has once again confronted us with a simple choice; adapt or die. And the only long-term adaptation that makes sense is miniaturization. Nature will do this job for us if we don’t –by culling the human race through the ever-worsening catastrophes we help to cultivate through inaction and taking much of the other life on the planet with us. But we have another less dire option. We can deliberately curb our waste of space, we can live more efficiently, and, as Soleri has been telling us for decades, we can enjoy a much superior way of life in reward for doing it.
It is no surprise that, in seeking a model of a more advanced human habitat, Marshal Savage should arrive at the arcology. Here we find a notion of community rather like a spacecraft, largely self-contained, efficient, technologically sophisticated, environmentally rational, and yet focused on the notion of a very coherent community and offering a fundamentally better way of life. It is, simply, the most advanced form of human habitat ever proposed, from the standpoints of environmental sustainability, standard-of-living, and quality-of-life.
But while both Savage and Soleri recognized the organismic nature of the arcology itself, both failed to recognize the need, given the primitive state of the contemporary western culture and the complexity of the process of urban development, for an organic process of development for them. Both seem to have overlooked the simple fact that cities aren’t built. They happen. That they are emergent phenomenon produced by a geographical convergence of individual interests and thus require an approach to design and urban planning more akin to genetic engineering than architectural design. Thus how well the concept of arcology can function as a cultural schema –a way of building and thinking about building integrated into the cultural DNA– is vastly more important and critical to realizing its objectives than any set of design drawings, no matter how beautiful. As will be discussed in the section on the phase, we now understand that, owing to the logistical problems of its original staged development scheme, Aquarius requires a more incremental, organic, process of development starting from a small scale and relying on a freely evolvable system of architecture allowing incremental growth and incrementally greater independence from the mainland. For similar reasons, the arcology on land is likely to require a similarly organic development approach relying on freely evolvable architecture, one that we can expect to see originating with land-based eco-communities developed by the Foundation CIC. These may be the Foundation Communities noted previously, or they may be communities created after the beginning of the Aquarius phase.
As a general rule in our contemporary culture, everything truly new or different has to be done on the edge of wilderness, literally or figuratively, for only there is one free of the hassle established society and communities compulsively generate out of an instinctual fear of change. This is why most Modernist residential architecture in the US is built on the edge of wilderness, out of sight of suburbia. Why the Burning Man festival had to be conducted on a dry lakebed in the California desert. Why artists often have to flee their home communities or sequester themselves like monks to take art in truly new directions. Why people who advocate the creation of new societies in the midst of the old are so often met with disdain or out-right violence. The prospect of change makes people uncomfortable –especially in a backward culture that, for the past 50 years has been actively turning away and hiding from a future it is only capable of envisioning as apocalyptic or dystopian. Western society is like the gambler in a burning Las Vegas casino who refuses to abandon his gaming table even as the building is coming down around him and must be either dragged out resentful by firemen or lured out by the jovial sounds and lights of an even fancier casino next-door.
Thus Aquarius, or some other marine settlement, is very likely to be the first full-scale arcology ever realized on Earth. It’s simply too difficult to conduct big experiments anywhere else. No local or national government in the world ‘gets it’ and they probably never will. They can’t. The people who make up these institutions and bureaucracies are the most ardent gamblers of all in that same burning casino! They will be the last ones out, of they ever get out. Once the first full scale arcology is realized, it will be a different story. It will be that shiny new and better casino next-door. Like so many world-changing concepts of the past, the arcology will always be ‘crazy’ and ‘impossible’ until someone actually builds one. Then it will become ‘obvious’ and ‘logical’.
But Foundation has an opportunity to set the stage for change. It may not be able to build an arcology on land, given the resistance one faces, but it can, on the ‘safe’ scale of the smaller eco-community, demonstrate the lifestyle, standard-of-living, and technology those habitats can afford. In doing so it can virally disseminate the meme of the arcology. It can teach by example, motivate by envy. It can’t replicate all the characteristics of the arcology lifestyle but it can still demonstrate it sufficiently to ‘tell the story’ of arcology over and over again with each human encounter of its environment. And it can employ architecture able to accommodate spontaneous, if ordered, growth, thus preparing communities as ‘proto-arcologies’ that can then evolve to the full scale as the surrounding communities and bureaucracies acquiesce, inspired by the key example of Aquarius. This seems a more likely path of evolution to arcology on land.
Thus beginning with these small communities, we can envision an evolution well into the future of a new built environment for civilization which we might call Arcology Earth, since it would function as a largely contiguous structure distributed across the globe like a delicate web –at the global scale– amidst a restored natural environment, existing like a kind of symbiotic organism. With this tentative glimpse of its ultimate form in mind, let us now consider a possible scenario for the development of Arcology Earth from some point in the near future to the time of the Solaria phase.
As part of its general pursuit of real estate development worldwide, the Foundation CIC may ultimately establish a great many communities in locations chosen strategically for their potential to host arcologies in the future. As a matter of course the CIC would favor proto-arcology architecture simply because it’s more environmentally responsible, affords communities with standard-of-living benefits that can give it an edge over other real estate on the market, and would more-or-less afford a kind of aesthetic ‘brand’ to its properties. Thus when the door of opportunity for their next phase of development is opened by the example of Aquarius, they will be able to begin evolving into full scale arcologies by simple evolutionary expansion. What would these ‘proto-arcos’ be like? To describe that we must first explain the basic design theory for arcology.
The basic design premise of arcology is that a contiguous built structure divides the universe into three zones of space; an internal community environment –the shared environment of group human activity, interaction, and commerce– and the external and natural environment separated by the private space of the individual integrated within a more-or-less vertical built structure. And so the basic theoretic model of an arcology is that of a cylindrical walled city whose ‘wall’ is the primary structure of the habitat organized into individual personal spaces stacked one atop the other. Since private space separates the natural and community environments, each unit of private space has simultaneous access to both environments. The basic model is an open-ended ‘cell’ or ‘bay’ space roughly akin to a suburban housing lot with one side open to the inner environment, the other side open to the exterior. These cells are outfit into functional space by retrofit, just like a loft apartment. Light mezzanine and partition structures can be installed to further divide the unit space and any style of façade or in-fill structure can be employed along with all the common forms of landscaping possible according to the amount of terrace space one wishes to use for it. Cells can be grouped together and given common facades to accommodate larger dwellings or ‘buildings’ of specialized activity. Each level or ‘terrace’ in the structure tends to define a local ‘neighborhood’, sharing a common interior terrace walkway, meeting spaces, service facilities, and possibly exterior terraces as well. They need not all be the same height as different concentrations of activity may call for different densities of traffic along a terrace. A typical residential area may need only a single row of cells like a suburban avenue of town-houses. A commercial area may desire a terrace some number of rows high to create structures akin to office buildings. In general, the thickness of the built structure is relative to the volume of the unit cells as a function of light and air communication. A structure able to allow taller wider cells can allow them to be longer as well because the increased facing area at their ends allows more light and air communication. This leads to a thicker but lower density structure. Efficiency calls for using as large a unit cell size as the structural system will allow for maximum freedom of adaptability, but a cell size comparable to the typical suburban lot is probably likely to be the most common. In most past arcology designs unit cells seem to be in the area of three stories high and proportionally wide and about 1.5-3 times long or deep, providing setbacks at the ends to allow for private balconies.
All arcology designs are variations on this basic system of organization. The primary structure may vary greatly in height and shape, but will still tend to have this same cellular organization and divide space in this same general way. In Paulo Soleri’s classic work “Arcology : The City In The Image Of Man” he offered a vast menagerie of elaborate arcology designs, yet all of them had this same general organization. It is as though one took the classic 2D urban grid and turned it on its side to make a vertical ‘mesh’ that can be stretched volumetrically to form various 3D shapes, rather like making virtual landscapes in a computer modeling program. This not only affords freedom in overall form, it makes the arcology potentially freely scalable according to the limits of its structural technology. Given a building technology with the ability to incrementally deconstruct and reconstruct it’s structure, the arcology can be reshaped freely over time. It can be evolutionary, responding dynamically to the exterior environment and the interior forces of its populace’s needs. And it can grow with building technology’s ability to support progressively taller structures, increasing density. This affords the option of incremental growth. An arcology can begin from a small community structure and evolve into megastructure of most any size and shape.
Thinking on this arcology mode of organization, we can envision the proto-arcology as a fairly simple structure –a modest scaled array of unit cells– akin to the Tectonic and Solar Circle eco-community forms described in the Foundation Communities section. The proto-arco would start at a minimum of two levels with the lowest level row of bays relegated to parking, local light industry, and utility functions while the first residential level at lest one level above that would employ a base deck for the open community space. Initially limited in the area of this community space, focus would be on the cultivation of garden environments to create a somewhat sheltered internal habitat and some sense of privacy for the entrances of individual residences. Proto-arcos would be located as close to primary transportation routes –major highways in particular– as possible to both economize on the energy and carbon overhead of transportation as well as to take advantage of primary telecommunications trunks.
Seeking to realize as much of the full scale arcology lifestyle as possible despite their size, these proto-arcos would offer a standard of living structured around the notion of bandwidth. Very high speed Internet access to every home along with in-community WiFi and powerful community-based host services would be free, supported by community funds. Modest scale personal packet transit systems would be deployed to support personal storage, access to a community general store, access to community shopping networks (as described in the Foundation Communities section), mail processing, and external shipping through local a local community shipping depot. Strong focus would be placed on ‘multi-use’ with in-community storage, light industry, and commercial space to appeal to a more entrepreneurial resident community with the intent of exploiting emerging post-industrial technology to cultivate a local economy. Not intended to be self-sufficient at a small scale or isolated from the rest of the world, the idea is to allow the community to function as a largely complete ‘node’ of economics and commerce in respect to the rest of the world so that its communication with the rest of the civilization is concentrated along its key transit and telecommunications links, reducing the need for diffused individual use of commercial venues in other nearby communities –again with the intent of making the community more environmentally sustainable. Other likely features of the proto-arco would include community kitchen and/or restaurant, day care center, local clinic and first-aid center, media and tool library integrated to the PPT system, public lounge, amphitheater (used for many different community activities from public movies and concerts to public meetings), art galleries and sculpture garden, bath/spa, health center, and so on.
The initial proto-arco would tend to be relatively simple –uniform or symmetrical– in form. As it evolves the topology of its early phases of growth would be dictated more by local natural landscape features which it would tend to be comparable to in physical scale. This would tend to produce a somewhat low height form with an organic shaped outline. A few levels would define major concentrations of activity; utility, industrial, commerce, and residence. The differences between the Solar Circle and Tectonic design approaches would tend to dissolve in favor of the Tectonic as the form diverges in outline from a more uniform shape. As it approaches a population in the area of 500-1000 residents, the proto-arco would begin to implement larger scale aspects of arcology design; large span environment enclosures based on Texlon membrane roofing systems, expansion of the PPT system to include a full SuperStore node, and deployment of local public transportation with closer physical integration to the nearby transit links.
With the advent of Aquarius a revolution in cultural attitude toward the concept of arcology may be triggered, suddenly allowing the proto-arco to enter a new phase of rapid and larger scale evolution. Still following a largely Tectonic approach, the community would grow beyond the scale of the local landscape, adopt a relationship to the larger scale regional landscape, and now actively seek to integrate its local transportation links into its physical structure –to swallow-up it nearest primary transit links while obsolescing the lesser nearby transit routes branching off them along with the old-fashioned dispersed communities they host. For the collective global community of proto-arcologies this would mean the beginning of a shift from the mindset of local communities to an inter-community mindset with a shared goal; to link up and reinforce their standard-of-living benefits through new transportation and communications technology and ultimately to link globally into a collective arcology. To realize Arcology Earth.
While discussions of the theory of arcology have tended to focus on discrete structure designs, in truth the ultimate vision of arcology is that of a single largely contiguous globe-spanning structure integrating the whole of terrestrial civilization. The structures we commonly refer to as individual ‘arcologies’ are, in fact, just nodes of concentrated activity in a much larger structure. Most of the habitat of arcology is not composed of these nodes. It is exists, instead, along the transit links forming the basis of a network linking these nodes. It consists primarily of ‘linear cities’.
A linear city is essentially an urban megastructure or ‘arcostructure’ organized around a high bandwidth communication/transportation line. It can be envisioned by imagining the theoretical cylinder of an arcology stretched along the path of a highway, creating a continuous linear structure with two flanking sides and the community space running through the middle. It is basically what you would get if the civilization suddenly decided –as frankly it should– that no one could build anything beyond a half a kilometer or so from the side of a major interstate highway. With less height, and thus less density, than the large arcology nodes, a linear city has, at any given point along its length, more of a village atmosphere and somewhat slower, quieter, pace of life and activity –even as the data and material traffic of the world is zooming constantly along it. One is at once as connected to the world as in anywhere in the collective arcology yet not exposed to it in the same concentration. It is sometimes characterized as a more ‘suburban’ arcology environment.
The linear city concept is one that, in the past, may not have gotten the attention due it, perhaps because it is less glamorous than the elaborate nodal structures. It is clearly the most logistically important form since, in practice, it would ultimately be the largest of arcology structures in terms of volume, house most of the population, most of the industrial activity (agriculture especially), and provide the crucial physical network binding the civilization together. Indeed, in TMP 2 we consider the linear city to be the primary form of terrestrial arcology. All other forms would be spontaneous manifestations of greater urban concentration evolved along and out of this primary form. In other words, Arcology Earth is a linear city web with larger nodal structures evolving spontaneously from this primary structure at points where lines of transit intersect and where a location has some kind of socio-economic or logistical gravitas to compel a higher concentration of activity. As we noted earlier, cities are emergent phenomenon. The city of New York is NOT its buildings but its location. If some great disaster suddenly wiped all the buildings in New York away, it would still be spontaneously rebuilt in the same place because that location has (or at least had before the invention of suburbia) the gravitas to compel a concentration of human activity. This is why it is necessary for the concept of arcology to exist as a cultural meme independent of any structural design and why its structures need to be organically evolutionary. Contemporary civilization is a kind of information system distributed as a network over the geography of the Earth. This network will, over the course of history, spontaneously produce many different points of concentrated traffic with those points emerging, growing, and then waning. Owing to the geography of the Earth, some of these points may always be prominent. Others may be temporary. For instance, Edge Cities today form at the periphery of acceptable commute distances from other major cities. If transportation technology changes, the acceptable commute distance changes, and thus the gravitas of a location for city development changes. The physical structure of civilization must thus freely accommodate this kind of evolution, or risk dysfunction. The problems inherent in so many cities today are expressions of just this kind of dysfunction.
Thus we can anticipate that, rather than simply increasing in size, the proto-arcos, freed of the limits to eco-village size and the restriction on the CIC’s active accumulation of land adjacent to them, would seek to also project themselves as linear cities along the vectors of the transit links near them with the intent of linking-up. Also encouraging this would be some practical limits on the scale of nodal arcologies due to limitations in current construction technology. And the linear cities would also offer a way to for individuals still hung-up on the need for greater than normal space to obtain that space farther out from the nodal communities while still enjoying the infrastructure benefits as well as offering a means for the arcology to engage in heavier and larger scale industries needing a somewhat greater degree of physical isolation or much larger volumes of physical space. Indeed, it’s likely that any older-style non-post-industrial facilities would in general concentrate at the ‘tail end’ of any linear city extension and would constantly relocate as extensions of the linear city are added offering cheaper space still directly connected to the arcology infrastructure. Thus they the linear city would encourage a kind of ‘controlled sprawl’ limited to the vector of these transit links which also encourages the rapid extension of their new transit system links.
It may be unlikely –at least at first– that these linear cities could simply straddle and ‘absorb’ the existing highways due to residual resistance on the part of regional governments to give up control of this infrastructure –and the reluctance of arcology residents to allow primitive auto traffic inside their environments once they realize the benefits of avoiding it. But these emerging linear cities will be able to parallel them and obsolesce them in place by virtue of more superior pollution-free automated transit technology of their own. While the most obvious transit technology taking this role might be things like mag-lev rail, initially there would not be key destinations for such systems because the emergent linear cities would not extend very far and link to other nodal communities. So the more key technologies in this role are likely to be Personal Packet Transit, and the related Personal Rapid Transit. These would offer residences and businesses within the confines of the expanding arcology network a much higher level of convenience and a very clear economic advantage over the residents of more primitive communities and the use of more primitive communications/transportation while the cost of implementing them would be nominal since they would be incorporated into the structure of the linear city as it incrementally extends.
As the proto-arcologies grow, extend their reach toward each other, and begin to link-up the overall habitat they would produce would be akin to a flowing artificial landscape merging with the existing landscape in most regions and sometimes emerging more starkly against it in others. Linear cities would morph along their routes between different shapes dictated by environment, regional aesthetic, and in some cases the effect of overt design, some portions more Tectonic in form, some more traditionally urban, and others lofted on pylons to allow the natural biome around them to permeate beneath, allowing for the free transit of animals and the cross-spread of forests. Other would take the forms of bridges across rivers and canyons. Only where the path of the linear city and the transit routes it follows must pass through mountains and hills using tunnels would the apparent continuity of the structure appear broken, though it is likely that a linear city would seek to employ much more functional use of the subterranean space its transit and infrastructure links are forced to pass through than has been typical of simple railway and roadway tunnels.
At a point in time probably somewhere in the mid-to-late Asgard phase of TMP key networks of Arcology Earth may be established. Aquarius would be mature and accompanied by a host of sister marine settlements some of which may employ marine railway links to connect them in functional networks linked to the arcology structures on land. At this point we are likely to see SeaFoam emerge as a dominant building material at sea with applications for it on land soon to follow. Sea Foam would be a recyclable variable-density foamed geopolymer material with a homogeneous admixture of carbon nanofiber. Replacing steel-reinforced concrete, it would radically reduce the carbon overhead of the civilization as it becomes the de-facto building material for much of the built habitat –Arcology Earth especially. SeaFoam would not only allow for much simpler fabricated higher performance masonry structures, it would allow for a more freely formed architecture. It would allow Arcology Earth to employ progressively taller nodal structures with a much more organic, homogenous, structural composition and even greater evolutionary freedom than before. The emergence of this material may produce a radical shift in favor of more free-form organic design among the marine settlements. No longer would they be restricted to purely modular component composition as the SeaFoam structural matrix could be cast in-situ in water and be incrementally removed, recycled, and replaced with as much ease as using demountable reconfigurable parts. Likewise, a similar shift in favor of this form of architecture may occur on land, though perhaps not as comprehensively and with more of a geo-mimicry angle to its aesthetic.
Combined with new infrastructure systems resulting from emerging nanotechnology –still probably employed primarily as nanochip systems by this time– the use of SeaFoam would see the physical makeup of the terrestrial built habitat evolve into a more homogenous sub-structural matrix. SeaFoam would be treated like a kind of man-made strata that is used to sculpt the general volumetric urban landscape while specific functional space and local form is excavated or formed into it and infrastructure ‘grows’ into it like the roots of a plant in soil. This leaves the surface to be freely sculpted, decorated, articulated to create an appearance ranging from a simulation of natural rock strata to a simulation of any of the architectural styles or cultural themes civilization has produced –albeit within the context of the arcology and its contiguous structure.
Also in this stage of development, new nanotechnology enabled excavation systems would begin to drive the costs of subterranean construction below the costs of surface construction. This would increase the significance of the arcology nodal structures and decrease the significance of linear city links because now high speed transit and infrastructure links spanning great distances could be put underground while increasing the carrying capacity of the nodal structures. Less popular linear city spans –particularly in areas where they impact natural landscape views or still obstruct the communication of major portions of biomes– could be obsolesced by subterranean infrastructure links. The web of Arcology Earth may become thinner as its nodes becomes larger and taller.
By the time of the beginning of Solaria sea, land, and geosynchronous orbit would be well integrated in the web of Arcology Earth through marine rail links, marine linear cities, space elevator systems, and perhaps even a Geopolis linear city ring linking the GEO upstation colonies of the space elevators. Equatorial solar energy would be well exploited and, combined with space-sourced solar energy communicated to the equator, would be distributed across the increasingly subterranean network of Arcology Earth along with a constant flow of recycled materials feeding a post-industrial culture that has completely obsolesced factory production, save for a few rare items from space. A succession of nanotechnology-enabled diamondoid fabrication techniques may have supplanted much use of SeaFoam by this time, the built habitat being created increasingly from the carbon once dumped into the atmosphere in the Industrial Age. Perhaps some 70% of the original terrestrial biosphere may be returned to its pristine wilderness state through the dominance of Arcology Earth as the primary abode of terrestrial civilization.
At this time the introduction of another new material –NanoFoam– may produce not only another revolution in architecture across Arcology Earth, it may result in the evolution of the arcology into a truly living and intelligent organism physically larger than ever. Combining a diamondoid structural matrix with an active colony of nanoassemblers and distributed information processing systems in a fluid medium, NanoFoam would be a blending of material, mechanism, and intelligence which produces a homogenous material that self-configures and self-fabricates to assume any needed shape or most any desired artifact or machine. Introduced into the structure of Arcology Earth, it would incrementally consume its existing structures in-place, replacing them with its own NanoFoam matrix and transforming it into a vast self-configuring, self-maintaining, self-aware system. As it absorbs the once dumb structural matter of Arcology Earth, it would simultaneously extend itself into the subterranean volume of the Earth, slowly obsolescing all remaining linear cities through the creation of a vast RhiZome complex that spreads lattice-like through the strata of the Earth and taps its hot core for energy. The web of Arcology Earth would seem to disappear with only its nodal structures left, some 80% of the original biosphere returned to nature, yet its infrastructure would now totally permeate the planet beneath that biosphere. The whole of the human built habitat would thus become an information system –a planetary scale neural network– hosting a Virtual Habitat in parallel to the physical habitat, ultimately home to a new cybernetic extension of the human race.
Of course, by this time Earth would be just one increasingly small part of a solar-system-wide civilization and treated, increasingly, as the Central Park of the solar system. There may one day even be moves to completely restore its environment, reducing Arcology Earth to only its space elevator downstation arcostructures, its Geopolis ring, and that vast RhiZome permeating its strata as most of its organic human population either dies-off or moves to space.